Portal:Astrobiology

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Astrobiology

Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of extraterrestrial life. This interdisciplinary field takes up the search for habitable environments in our Solar System and habitable planets outside our Solar System, the search for evidence of prebiotic chemistry, laboratory and field research into the origins and early evolution of life on Earth, and studies of the potential for life to adapt to challenges on Earth and in outer space. Astrobiology addresses the question of whether life exists beyond Earth, and how humans can detect it if it does.

Astrobiology makes use of physics, chemistry, astronomy, biology, molecular biology, ecology, planetary science, geography, and geology to investigate the possibility of life on other worlds and help recognize biospheres that might be different from the biosphere on Earth. Astrobiology concerns itself with interpretation of existing scientific data; given more detailed and reliable data from other parts of the universe, the roots of astrobiology itself—physics, chemistry and biology—may have their theoretical bases challenged. Although speculation is entertained to give context, astrobiology concerns itself primarily with hypotheses that fit firmly into existing scientific theories.

Selected article

The structure of Silane
Hypothetical types of biochemistry are forms of biochemistry speculated to be scientifically viable but not proven to exist at this time. While the kinds of living beings we know on Earth commonly use carbon for basic structural and metabolic functions, water as a solvent and DNA or RNA to define and control their form, it is possible that undiscovered life-forms could exist that differ radically in their basic structures and biochemistry from that known to science.

The possibility of extraterrestrial life being based on these "alternative" biochemistries is a common subject in science fiction, but is also discussed in a non-fiction scientific context.

Selected biography

Schulze-Makuch Dec2010.JPG
Dirk Schulze-Makuch is currently a professor at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Washington State University. He is best known for his publications on extraterrestrial life, being coauthor of four books on the topic: A One Way Mission to Mars: Colonizing the Red Planet (2011), We Are Not Alone: Why We Have Already Found Extraterrestrial Life (2010), Cosmic Biology: How Life could Evolve on Other Worlds (2010), and Life in the Universe: Expectations and Constraints (2004). In 2012 he published with David Darling Megacatastrophes! Nine Strange Ways the World Could End.

Schulze-Makuch's research interests and publications range from astrobiology, hydrobiology, archaeology, to cancer. To the viewer he may be best known for his work in astrobiology, in particular the possible existence of life on Venus, Mars, Titan, Europa and Io. His book Life in the Universe (with L. N. Irwin) considers alternative physiologies for extraterrestrial life.

Selected picture

ALH84001 structures.jpg
Credit: NASA

The Allan Hills meteorite, when examined under an electron microscope. Could those chain structures be evidence of microbial life from mars?

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Astrobiology(11 C, 109 P)
Astrobiologists(69 P)
Alien language(1 C, 2 P)
Anthropic principle(10 P)
ExoMars(9 P)
Extraterrestrial life(6 C, 49 P)
Extremophiles(18 C, 27 P)
Astrobiology journals(4 P)
Panspermia(18 P)
Planetary habitability(2 C, 9 P)
Square Kilometre Array(11 P)

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